Seattle council passes two more tenant protections

SEATTLE — A week after the Seattle City Council extended an emergency ban on rent-related evictions for another six months, the council Monday took two more steps to protect renters during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Council members voted 8 to 1 to block landlords from considering evictions that happen during and six months after the coronavirus emergency.

"We know the specter of this crisis, which none of us could have predicted, shouldn't haunt people for the rest of their lives," said council member Tammy Morales.

Roger Valdez of Seattle for Growth represents landlords and wonders why the council took up the legislation at a time when evictions are banned.

"It's hard to understand why they would not want anybody to look at evictions during that period because there won't be any," Valdez said.

The council Monday also passed a bill allowing tenants who fall behind on rent during the pandemic to pay it back on an installment plan.

“Many good landlords are engaging in that behavior, but there are many that are not," said M. Lorena Gonzalez, the council president.

Monday, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced how $4 million in federal money would be allocated for rent relief.

The city's homelessness prevention programs and housing providers will each distribute about $1.4 million.

$426,000 will provide housing help for people living with AIDS, and $700,000 will be distributed through United Way's Home Base program.

The mayor's office said when United Way started taking applications for help with April's rent, they received 7,000 applications in 48 hours.

There are several local efforts to help tenants.

Capitol Hill Housing said it has raised more than $400,000 for its COVID-19 relief fund and is working to deploy the funds.